The Psalmist prays, “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You perceive my thoughts from afar. You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely. [And this you know – You know that I know I fear.] O Lord, where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Now, search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Paraphrased from Psalm 139)
Today, does fear grip your head and heart? Are you anxious over something or someone? Is your stomach tied up in knots? Do you find yourself struggling to enjoy life, mentally focus, prayerfully commune, or peacefully sleep? My friend, what is it that ails you?
- A loved one is dead
- A wife is struggling with cancer
- A husband is failing to provide loving leadership to his family
- A family relocation involves a new house, church, work, and school
- A body will not heal and allow you to pursue your passions
- A marriage is dysfunctional
- A spouse is apathetic, abusive, adulterous, or all the above
- A loved one is mentally declining
- A disingenuous elder or divisive session damages the church
- A business venture or vocation goes not according to plan
- A church needs renewal and revitalization
- A personal sinful practice has a hold of your heart
- A prodigal child, scarring themselves, has still not come home
- A marriage longing has not passed though the years have
You do know that fear is unprofitable … right? God has ordained the beginning from the end and nothing will change his predetermined will. Your worry will not change a thing. He has ordained all the steps of man and where they are to live. He has fully planned the feeding of birds and the falling of hairs. Why worry about that which has been set in stone? Your fear will only aggravate and never alleviate your present tension.
You do know that, as an adopted child of the Heavenly Father, fear is unreasonable … right? Your adoring Father has allowed challenges in your life before, and he has previously used all of your tougher days and experiences for his glorification and your good. Today, he has not changed in his fatherly affection for you. He is the Lord of pleasure and the Lord of pain. He gives, and he takes away. He makes straight, and he makes crooked. However, all that he ordains and orchestrates – plans and performs – he does with sovereign power, omniscient wisdom and unwavering love. Today, he is currently sculpting the best scenario for your spiritual maturation and his secret purposes.
Also, you do know that, as a worshiping disciple, fear is ungodly … right? Satan would have you fear all sorts of things. God would have you fear only him. Satan would have you trust anyone other than your Maker. God would have you trust him alone and completely. And God, in his Word, clearly forbids anxiety and worry. Your fear shows the areas in which you distrust God’s sovereign power, omniscient wisdom, and unwavering love. Your fear is worthy of hell.
Therefore, what will you do today as you wallow in your pit of devilish despair, fear, worry, and anxiety? Oh troubled friends, my encouragement to you is to run to the Gospel and then pray the Psalms. The Gospel is custom-made for sinners, and the Psalms are custom-made for worshipers like David, Jesus, and you. Therefore, after resting in the life and death of Jesus, listen to his voice as exclaimed through the Psalms. Perhaps these paraphrased passages and prayers will be of some assistance to you as you worship him today:
[If you don’t have time to read all the Psalms listed below, please skip to Psalm 139]
Psalm 3 To you Lord I cry aloud. I am sure you will answer me from your holy hill. I need to lie down and sleep. I need you to sustain me. I need you to help me not fear. Arise O Lord and deliver me.
Psalm 4 Answer me as I call to you. You have relieved me in my distress in the past. Now be gracious and hear my prayer. You have set me apart for yourself. Therefore, I know you listen to me as I call to you. You tell me to tremble and not sin. You tell me to meditate in bed and be still. You tell me to offer you the righteous sacrifice of trust. [I can’t by myself, and that is why I am praying to you. You call peace a Fruit of the Spirit. Well that is what I need. I need to be fruited by your Spirit.]
Psalm 6 Lord, pity me for I am weak. Heal me, for I am sick, upset, and disturbed. My mind is filled with apprehension and gloom. I am worn out with pain; every night I soak my pillow with tears. My eyes are dim with grief. Lord, I know you hear my weeping and my pleading. I know you can and will answer my prayers.
Psalm 7 O Lord my God, I take refuge in You; save and deliver me.
Psalm 9 The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble, and those who know you put their trust in you. Why? Because you, O Lord, never forsake those who seek after you.
Psalm 10 Why do you stand so far away? Why do you appear to be hiding yourself in my time of trouble? I know you see my trouble and grief. I know you control it with your almighty hand. I know you are the helper of the fatherless.
Psalm 13 How long will you seem to forget me, Lord? How long will you look the other way as I am in need? How long must I be hiding daily anguish in my heart Answer me, O Lord my God; give me light in my darkness lest I die. I look forward to trusting in your mercy, rejoicing in your salvation, and singing because you have blessed me so richly.
Psalm 16 Keep me safe. Be my refuge. You are the one who has assigned me my portion and my cup. You are at my right hand, and because of this I will not be shaken. Somehow, you will fill me with joy in your presence today, and with eternal pleasures tomorrow.
Psalm 18 I love you Lord. You are my strength, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, and my God; you are the one in whom I find refuge. This has always been true though the cords of death have encompassed me, and the torrents of ungodliness have terrified me. However, in my distress, I called upon you, and you took me out of many waters. You brought me into a great place as you rescued me, because you delighted in me. Now, [if you help me again,] I can take on an army or leap over a wall.
Psalm 22 My God, why does it seem like you have forsaken me? Why do You refuse to help me or listen to my groans? Day and night I keep on weeping, crying for Your help, but you do not seem to reply. My worshiping fathers, they trusted you, and you delivered them. They were not disappointed as they sought for your aid. O God my strength, hurry to my aid. Rescue me from death and deep despair.
Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd, and because of this I know he will restore my soul, even though I walk through the shadow of death and find myself surrounded by enemies. Therefore, I cherish your loving rod and staff that protect and provide comfort to me.
Psalm 25 My eyes are continually toward the Lord. He will rescue me from the net. He will turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged. Therefore Father, bring me out of my distresses. Look upon my affliction and my trouble. Guard my soul and deliver me as I seek to take refuge in you.
Psalm 27 Wait on the Lord, and be of good courage. God will strengthen your heart.
Psalm 28 To you I call. I know you will not turn a deaf ear to me. You are my strength and my shield; my heart seeks to trust in you and find help. I know my heart will leap again for joy, and I will give thanks to you in song.
Psalm 30 Lord, this I know, weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy will surely come in the morning. You are the one who turns my mourning into dancing. I will again give thanks to you.
Psalm 31 In you, O Lord, I take refuge. Turn Your ear to me. Come quickly to my rescue. Into your hands I commit my spirit, my affliction — the anguish of my soul. Be merciful to me as I am in great distress. Help me as my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak. But I trust in you. You are my God. My times are in your hands. Help me be strong and take heart.
Psalm 34 I sought the Lord … in former times … and he answered me. He delivered me from all my fears. [Therefore, I will do so again.] Those who look to God are made radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; He saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them. He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.
Psalm 37 Do not fret. Trust in the Lord. Commit your way to him. Trust in him, for the Lord upholds the righteous — those who steps he has made firm. The believer may stumble, but he will not fall for the Lord upholds him with His hand. The Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. The Lord is their stronghold in time of trouble.
Psalm 38 I am numb and horribly damaged. I groan with an agitated heart. I am ready to fall! I confess my iniquity. I am full of anxiety. Do not forsake me. O my God, do not be far from me. Make haste to help me.
Psalm 40 I am waiting patiently for you Lord. Turn to me and hear my cry. Come and lift me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire. Set my feet on a rock and give me a firm place to stand. Go ahead, put a new song in my mouth — a hymn of praise to my God. Allow others to see and put their trust in you.
Psalm 42 My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you.
Psalm 46 God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, I will strive not to fear even though the earth move. I will seek to be still and know that you are God.
Psalm 54 Surely, God is my help. The Lord is the one who sustains me.
Psalm 55 Give ear to my prayer. Give heed and answer me. Why? Because I am restless in my complaint and greatly distracted. My heart is in anguish within me. Fear and trembling have come upon me. Horror has overwhelmed me. I know I need to cast my burden upon the Lord. I know he can sustain me. I know he will never allow the righteous to be shaken. I want to trust in you!
Psalm 56 When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. You have delivered my soul from death and my feet from stumbling. Help me again.
Psalm 57 I will take refuge in the shadow of Your wings until the disaster has passed. I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills His purpose for me. I will sing and make music, for great is your love and faithfulness to me.
Psalm 61 Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto you. My heart is overwhelmed, so lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
Psalm 62 My soul finds rest in God alone. He alone is my rock and my salvation. He is my fortress.
Psalm 63 You are my God, earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You, my body longs for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Psalm 68 I give praise to you my Lord, my God, and my Savior, for you daily bear my burden. You are my God who saves.
Psalm 69 Save my Father for the waters have come up to my soul. I have sunk in deep mire, and there is no foothold. I have come into deep waters, and a flood overflows me. I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched; my eyes fail while I wait for you. Deliver me from the mire, and do not let me sink. According to the greatness of your compassion, turn to me, and do not hide your face from me — your servant. I am in distress. Answer me quickly as I am afflicted and in pain.
Psalm 70 Make haste, O God, to deliver me;. Make haste to help me, O Lord.
Psalm 71 You, who have showed me many troubles and distresses, revive me again. Turn to comfort me.
Psalm 73 As my heart is grieved and my spirit embittered, I prove to be senseless and ignorant. Yet, I am always with you, [and you are always with me.] You hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel in this life, and in the next life you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? My flesh and my heart may fail, but you are the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm 77 As I raise my voice to you and cry aloud, you will hear me. I am so troubled that I cannot speak. My spirit ponders and asks the question, “Has God forgotten to be gracious? Or has He in anger withdrawn His compassion?” I know better than this. I shall again remember the deeds of the Lord. I will meditate on all his works and deeds. You are the great God. You are he who redeems your people. You are he who redeems me.
Psalm 86 Hear O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Guard my life, for I am devoted to You. You are my God; save Your servant who trusts in You. Bring joy to your servant, for to you I lift up my soul.
Psalm 90 Relent, O Lord! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servant. Satisfy me in the morning with your unfailing love, that I may sing for joy and be glad. Make me glad for as many days as you have afflicted me, for as many years as I have seen trouble.
Psalm 91 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘You are my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ … I hear you Lord. Because you love me you say, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges My name. He calls upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.”
Psalm 94 As my foot is sleeping, you, O Lord, support me. As my anxiety is great within me, your consolation brings joy to my soul. You are my fortress, my God, the rock in whom I take refuge.
Psalm 102 Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry for help come to You. Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn Your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly. My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food. Because of my loud groaning I am reduced to skin and bones. I lie awake. It seems like you have taken me up and thrown me aside. But this I know, you will respond to the prayer of the destitute. You will not despise my plea.
Psalm 103 Just as an earthly father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. He knows our frame. He is mindful we are but dust.
Psalm 107 The stories are great of how your people drew near the gates of death and cried to the Lord in their trouble. You saved them from their distress. You sent forth your word and healed them. You rescued them from the grave. You have unfailing love and perform wonderful deeds for men. You lift the needy out of their affliction. If I am wise, I will heed these things and consider the great love of the Lord.
Psalm 112 Lord, you can help me be a righteous man — one who will have no fear of bad news; whose heart is steadfast, who always trusts in the Lord, whose heart is secure.
Psalm 116 The Lord hears my voice and my supplications. I found distress and sorrow. I was brought low, and he saved me. Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. Lord, you have rescued my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. I will walk before you in the land of the living.
Psalm 118 From my distress I called upon the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me in a large place. The Lord is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me? Circumstances pushed so violently that I was falling, but God helped me. The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation. I shall not die, but live, and tell of the works of the Lord. The Lord has discipled me severely, but He has not given me over to death.
Psalm 119 My nose is in the dust. Please renew my life according to your word. My soul is weary with sorrow. Come strengthen me according to your word. It has been good for me to be afflicted that I might learn your decrees. But now my soul faints with longing for your salvation. When will You comfort me? I have suffered much; renew my life, O Lord, according to Your word.
Psalm 120 I call on the Lord in my distress, and you answer me.
Psalm 121 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills. This is the place from where my help comes. My help comes from the all-powerful, sovereign Lord who created the heaven and the earth. He will not allow my foot to slip. He watches over me. He keeps me from harm.
Psalm 130 Out of the depths I cry to you. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. I wait for the Lord.
Psalm 138 Father, when I call you answer me. You make me bold and stouthearted. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You will fulfill your purpose for me. Your love for me, O Lord, endures forever.
Psalm 139 O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You perceive my thoughts from afar. You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely. [And this you know – You know that I know I fear.]O Lord, where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Now, search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 142 I plead with you. How I implore your mercy, pouring out my troubles before you. For I am overwhelmed and desperate, and you alone know which way I ought to turn.
Psalm 143 My spirit is overwhelmed within me; my heart is appalled within me. I stretch out my hands to you. My soul longs for you as if I was in a parched land. Let me hear your loving-kindness in the morning, for I trust in you.
Psalm 145 The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The Lord is near to all who call on him in truth.
Psalm 147 It is good to sing praises to our God. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He sustains the humble. He delights in those who put their hope in His unfailing love.
Friends, fear is unprofitable, unreasonable, and ungodly. It is sinful, and the Gospel promises rescue from all sin — past, present, and future. Therefore, let us pray that God’s grace will allow us to say “no” to fear and “yes” to trust. Let us pray that God’s Spirit will enable us to “worship” instead of “worry.” Isn’t it good to know that Jesus died for all our sins of anxiety? Isn’t it good to know that Jesus will remove all anxiety in paradise? And isn’t it good to know that our Father wants to help us climb out of the pit of despair today and find undeserved solace in his arms. We have a good, good Father. He hates to see us living after the world, the flesh, and the devil. He hates to see us worry and not trust. Let us pray the Psalms and seek his face until he comes and rescues us from our internal turmoil — regardless of whether he immediately rescues us from our external trauma.
Listen to Jesus calling you now:
John 14:27 Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.
Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by Prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves, then, under God’s mighty hand, so that he will lift you up in his own good time. Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you.
1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Friends, “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. (Proverbs 12:25) Perhaps the Lord will use his Psalms to give you that “kind word.” Perhaps he will cheer you up through his Spirit. He is the Prince of Peace, and he loves granting peace that passes all understanding.